Opeoluwa Odunlami: The rejected stone [Nigerian Voices]

by Opeoluwa Odunlami

“How good you start is important, how well you end is what is more important.”

I did not have a good start in life. Before I was even delivered of my mother, my father rejected me -he denied paternity over me. This does not even seem as awful to me as the fact that it was not because of his incapability to bear my responsibilities. In fact, if he has as much as ten of me, he can adequately cater for their needs with ease. It was not as if my mother was wayward or promiscuous. His reasons were known to only him -and definitely God.

This plague haunted me for long in life. It dampened my self-esteem. It affected my reasoning, reaction to situations, and perspective on life -I was a total pessimist.

I did not start school early enough. I do not know why and I did not even bother to ask, but it was certainly not financial issue -my mother was not rich but God still blessed her enough to provide what was needed.

When I was in primary one, I had a crisis – sickle cell anaemia which kept me away from school for almost the whole session. That was not my first experience but it was the worst I had all my life -only that it did not affect my schooling; I did not repeat the class, instead I remained even more promising.

“Everything happens for a reason and at the ripe time.”

My primary school, though a private school was up to primary six then. It was not compulsory for every pupil to reach this peak class before proceeding to the secondary school. The class was mainly meant to prepare, more adequately, pupils whose parents and(or) the school feared were not fit academically for the secondary school and those whose parents were rich enough to afford their wards more knowledge and experience. I did not belong to any of the aforementioned category but fate still made me stay a year longer after primary five.

After my primary five, I was academically fit to proceed to secondary school, but by this time, my mother was at her worst financially and there seemed to be no sign of any light after the tunnel, so I was left with no choice but to stay a year longer in the primary school. It was not as if my mother had the cash at hand then, she was only optimistic she would be able to raise the fund before payment deadline. The secondary school being a new school, I won’t be allowed any access to facilities until payment is made. On the night my mother told me about this development, to say I felt bitter would be an understatement. It was a very hard pill for me to swallow. I cried my eyes out. My mother wept all she could but tears would not just solve the problem. She did all she could to console me but I just became even more bitter: I could not understand why such life chose me because I was sure I did not choose it. That was another of the unpleasant experiences I ever had to deal with but it eventually turned out well for me.

I finished my primary school education in grand style, passed my entrance examination brilliantly and entered secondary school without any further delay. Life was quite fair to me during my secondary school days; I was bright and sparkling academically, everything went smooth as silk -except for times my mother was down financially. The number of days I walked to and from school on empty stomach is innumerable. Such days were really hard to deal with. But well I learnt lessons and waxed even stronger.

I gained admission into the university to study my course of choice in the same year I completed my secondary school education. Though I almost lost hope but the Lord renewed my strength.

“Family is not only blood. It is the people in your life who want You in theirs; the ones who accept You for who You are. The ones who would do anything to see You smile and who love You no matter what.”

After I gained admission into the university and my school fees had been paid and school was set to re-open for the new session, my mother could not afford the rent -and that became a millstone round our necks until God sent me an angel in the flesh of a friend. This angel came as a friend and remained a family. I can’t remember how we met, started talking, became friends… I can only remember he willingly accepted to accommodate me for so long as I wanted. We were so intimate like brothers of a parent that no one could tell we were not….

Life dealt me a blow a number of times; financially, academically, spiritually, though I stumbled, the Lord upheld me and did not let me fall. Though I am still a “work in progress” I thank God for what He has moulded me into. He’s made me relevant such that even my father that once rejected me will be willing to pay any price to have me, and surely I know, soon, he will come begging, and then I’ll be the once rejected stone that eventually turned the chief cornerstone!


This entry was submitted as part of the Nigerian Voices competition organized by YNaija.com.

We publish, un-edited, Nigerians telling the stories of their everyday lives. Read all the narratives daily on the Nigerian Voices vertical. You can also contribute your own story titled ‘Nigerian Voices’ to [email protected].

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